All week my wife dreaded spending her Saturday getting a blood transfusion. Saturdays in this pre-holiday season are supposed to be for decorating, shopping, enjoying time with friends, anything but sitting at an infusion unit getting a blood transfusion. Kay is on chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, and has been dragging around lately with a hematocrit in the mid 20’s, and finally her oncologist just told her she should get the blood. She had really been putting this off, in part because it felt like giving in to the chemo. She has been a chemotherapy superstar. Few side effects, continuing an active and fun lifestyle overall, and having a great attitude. This seemed like in-your-face evidence that she was being adversely affected by the drugs.
Then, as is Kay’s nature, a beautiful thought came to her. She was getting a gift from two generous people who spent a bit of their day, and gave a part of their body in order that she could feel better. This was an anonymous gift of love and caring from two ordinary people who did an extraordinary thing. They went out of their way to donate blood.
Kay is a typical recipient of this generosity and heroic act. Heroic you ask? What makes this heroic? A hero is someone who does something most others don’t do to help someone else. Blood donation fits this definition perfectly.
A minority of Americans are eligible to donate blood. (<38% per the American Red Cross) . I’ve been fortunate to be able to donate blood and do so regularly. Kay has in the past, but because of her cancer is no longer eligible. Still this is lots of eligible people, but only about 16 million units of blood are collected in the US annually. 5 million Americans annually receive blood products, some for acute life threatening conditions, but others like Kay in order to be able to walk up the stairs without struggling.
This holiday season is especially a time where blood banks run low on supply. Take the time, be a hero, and give a Christmas or holiday gift to someone you may not know, but like Kay, may feel extremely blessed and grateful that you took the time and donated.
As an aside Kay has commented this weekend that she hadn’t really thought about it but the pounding of her pulse in her temples is now gone, she walks up the stairs without being out of breath, and is sleeping more soundly thanks to both of her generous donors. Thanks to both of you, whoever you are, and thanks to the rest of you who donate regularly. For the rest: You can give a Christmas gift that’s free to give, and if not save a life, at least make a life better. Just do it!